Paul says that godliness with contentment is great gain. Having the character of God with contentment in God is soul-wealth. But can we manufacture our own contentment?
However, we can cultivate a posture and discipline of gratitude. And we can surrender our fears, our discontentment, and sometimes accutely painful present to God. In my last post, I wrote: “the key to peace is surrender.” It was something I believe Dallas Willard (or one of our retreat directors) said.
Ever since I reread that statement in my journal I decided, to the best of my ability, to practice the surrender of a particular pain and dissatisfaction. Sometimes daily, sometimes moment by moment surrender has been required of me.
But, I wanted to report to you that the insight is correct. Peace follows our surrender. I surrendered and continue to surrender this particular circumstance. For full disclosure, it has taken me five years to get to the point where I comprehend what it means for me to surrender what has up until this point been a thorn. Sometimes it takes a while for God to work in us and for us to work out our salvation with fear and treambling; purification isn’t instantaneous.
For me it has meant kissing a dream good-bye. It means accepting the possibility that this dream may never materialize into reality. It means trusting that if the Lord chooses not to grant me this desire that he is and will continue to fill me with shalom without granting me this desire.
I’ve been very content, more joyful, and thankful.
Very little has changed in my outward circumstances. But I do remember the song that the Taize Community sings from Romans chapter 4: “The kingdom of God is justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
All this to say, more and more I am experiencing contentment with what I hope is godliness in my life. And it’s not hit-and-miss contentment. This is not to say that I don’t have my share of sadnesses. But there is this underlying shalom in my soul that is bubbling up like a spring. I do hope that it spills forth into my environment and to yours, too.
Remember, God is a peacemaker. He wants to bring contentment to your soul–Jesus says when we take his teaching or yoke upon us, and go to him, we’ll find rest for our souls. In turn, as his shalom fills us, he uses us in his great world-wide divine conspiracy to overcome evil with good, to reconcile all things to himself. God desires to bring peace on earth, good will to all people. It’s part of the good news that the angels proclaimed when Jesus was born. It is gospel.
Your peace and shalom has eternal implications not only for your own life, but for everyone and everything you touch.